Population structure, timing of divergence and contact between lineages in the endangered Hastings River mouse (Pseudomys oralis)

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Rowe, KMC, Rowe, KC, Elphinstone, MS, Baverstock, PR 2012, 'Population structure, timing of divergence and contact between lineages in the endangered Hastings River mouse (Pseudomys oralis)', Australian Journal of Zoology, vol. 59, no. 3, pp. 186-200.

The publisher's version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO11046


Management of threatened species requires understanding their genetic structure, particularly when the potential for cryptic lineages exists for species with a broad geographic range. The Hastings River mouse (Pseudomys oralis) is an endangered species found along the eastern coast of Australia. Previous genetic investigation revealed two mitochondrial lineages, separated by an unsampled gap in northern New South Wales. Using new samples from within this gap and from throughout the species’ range, we recovered two evolutionary lineages in agreement with previous studies. Importantly, we identified Washpool National Park as the area of lineage overlap, located at the northern limit of the Macleay–McPherson Overlap Zone. We confirmed limited haplotype sharing between localities, suggesting low levels of gene flow. Historical demography suggested recent population expansion and decline for Lineages I and II, respectively. Our dating estimates placed lineage divergence at 300 000–900 000 years ago, at the lower limit of percentage divergence between other sister species in Pseudomys. While these results support separate management consideration for each lineage, nuclear markers are needed to evaluate whether these lineages represent separate species. In addition, comparative phylogeographic analyses of divergence times among lineages of other species distributed across the Macleay–McPherson Overlap Zone are needed to determine the significance of this biogeographic contact zone for ecological communities in the region generally.

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